“Do not be hasty in your heart…”
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 5
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
You may have counted the days from now until Easter Sunday and discovered there are actually forty-six days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During the time of Lent people would fast and pray. Sunday was never considered a “fast” day and so the six Sundays were not counted as part of Lent. Though it was a penitential, reflective season, Sundays were always considered little “Easters.” If you take the six week period, you’ll have forty-two days, less the six Sundays makes thirty-six days fasting days. As a result four additional days were added which is why Lent always begins on a Wednesday. So what is the point and what difference does it make?
The season points to a kind of tension between the “already and not yet” aspect of faith. The Lord has risen (the “already”) and we know that part of the story, but we dare not rush through the way of the cross to get to the “not yet.” (We have “not yet” come to restoration.) It does us well to slow down. This pericope is a wonderful framer for worship.We are surrounded by people in a hurry. We purchase a new phone or computer because it is “faster.” The concept of speed has even entered our vocabulary. How often have you heard, “I have a quick question.” or “It will only take a minute.” Where is the “Can I ask a slow question?” In growing up on the farm, we planted the corn seeds in the ground in late April and waited until September or October to harvest the corn. Waiting is lost skill. We pray with a list of things we want God to accomplish, the sooner the better from our standpoint. During Lent, let me challenge you to spend one half of your prayer time listening to God and the other have conversing with him. Keep your mouth shut and give God a chance to talk! Don’t be is such a hurry. Amen!
Music: “Miserere Mei, Deus” Allegri 1630. This is a gorgeous setting of the penitential Psalm 51. It’s in Latin so you may wish to look at the English text. I’d suggest you read the psalm first and then slow down and listen to what you have read expressed in another language. It is gorgeous and beautifully filmed in a marvelous setting. Take the time. It will be the best 5 minutes and 30 seconds of your day! Listen with your heart.
Hymn: Gregory the Great 540-604
Kind Maker of the world, O hear
the fervent prayer, with many a tear
poured forth by all the penitent
who keep this holy fast of Lent
Each heart is manifest to thee
Thou knowest our infirmity
Now we repent, and seek thy face,
Grant unto us thy pardoning grace.
Grant, O thou blessed Trinity,
Grant, O unchanging Unity,
That this our fast of forty days,
May work our profit and thy praise!
Prayer: O thou great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is therein, and sweep the rubbish from thy dwelling place.
― An African schoolgirl’s prayer